If I Could Do College Over: Advice from a Rising Senior
My Mom said “these will be the best four years of your life” as she hugged me goodbye after unpacking my things and dropping me into what I considered to be my new life. Since I was in elementary school, I wanted to go to college. I always hated structured curriculum, and I dreamed of a place that would let me blossom and learn what I wanted and be who I wanted to be. Now that I’m approaching the end, I do not regret anything, but I think I would do things differently given a second chance.
There are a lot of things on the internet that tell you how to best spend your college career (often times they are paid-for articles) and I would just like to say that this is in no way a paid advertisement.
If you’re currently attending or thinking about going to college here are a few things you can take away from my experience.
Don’t Go Willingly
If I could do it again I would take a year off to travel. Not glamorously, but working part-time, couch-surfing, making MY way around the world. College is incredible, you will find out more about yourself than you thought possible. BUT college is not the only catalyst to you finding out who you are. College is not for everyone. It’s expensive and stressful. Don’t you dare let anyone make you feel less-than for not wanting to go. Some people need time to find out what they want out of life and that time might not include College. Soul searching can come in the form of travel, learning a trade, moving away from home, or just doing something different. Now that I’m older I understand that making peace with myself, and loving myself is the only way I am going to accomplish what I want to do with my life. Traveling has helped me do that, more so than College did.
Don’t Sign Up for Everything (Clubs, Clubs, Clubs)
If I did it again, I would try something I’m already passionate about and something I’m curious about. Then I would give it some time, and try something else if I didn’t enjoy it. My mistake Freshman year was signing up for every club I thought I might like. Soon, the emails became so overwhelming I dropped all of them and did nothing instead. I overextended myself with an On-Campus Job, brand new city, new people, Honors level courses. Take time, instead, and find out what clubs you really enjoy. I do not regret my experiences working On-Campus. Unless you love the work, like I did, don’t put work experience in front of making friends and connections. Get to know your professors, your bosses, your advisers, they might help you in the future.
Try Out Before You Tap Out
I wish I had four more years to be involved with the Debate Team at my school. I let someone talk me out of joining early-on because it wasn’t seen as “cool”, or “fun.” If you want to try-out for a dance-crew, play, A Capella group, newspaper, etc just do it. Don’t worry about if you’re good enough. Or if it’s “the cool club” to be a part of. Practice and take the audition seriously. When you are in-over-your-head you will find just what you are made out of, and it often leads you to find friends and interests you wouldn’t have discovered. I tried out for a dance troop and one school play. No dancing experience, minimal acting chops, but I did it and met some really incredible people and learned that I prefer public speaking (debate and poetry reading) and working back-stage on lights. Also, just because you’re a Sophomore, Junior or even a Senior doesn’t mean you can’t try something new.
You Don’t Have to Like Your Friends
This is more of a life tip, but it is something I wish I had learned sooner. In Highschool you have friend groups, and once you’re there you think you’re pretty much stuck. So you tell them you like what they like, and you all do sort of the same things; you’re safe. You can get sucked into those cliques in College too. As the title says, don’t accept people just because you happen to be in the same classes or friend groups. If they are obnoxious, don’t respect you, talk behind your back, or just do things you don’t like, don’t hang out with them! You can find other people. In College especially, if you don’t learn to march to your drum, someone is going to throw you off count and ruin your song, but they won’t care because theirs will still sound perfect. Find people who love and respect you, and love and respect them. People are more than their outward appearance, and you can find friendship in the most unlikely ways. You are worth it.
My pride and I have gone down some very dark paths because I refused to get help. Getting help, receiving it for any reason is not weakness. I wish I had used more of the facilities available to me to make my time at school less stressful. The most important reason being, I am paying for them and will be for many years after I graduate. You are paying for medical advice, counseling, books, internet, food, tutoring, mentoring and so much more. You do not have to carry the weight of College on your own, and trust me it’s pretty heavy. If you learn anything in school learn to accept the help of others.
Don’t Live In The Past
Regret is not something I sell. I do not sell it to myself or others. I love where I am in life. If I don’t in that moment, I know that every new moment provides me the opportunity to find happiness again. So take my experiences as you will, but do not take them as a reason to regret your choices. These are merely opportunities for improvement. You still have time.